Semi-Truck Backing Tips

Backing a semi-truck is one of the most difficult maneuvers for a truck driver, but an essential skill that must be taken seriously. This skill takes time to develop, but with patience and consistent effort, it is possible to do it effectively. Mastering backing will distinguish you from amateur drivers.


Keep these tips in mind to make the semi-truck backing process easier:

1. Safety First

Your safety and the safety of your truck are the most important parts of semi-truck backing. There is no shame in finding a different spot or asking for help you have a gut feeling that your trailer won’t make it. After all, you know your vehicle better than anyone else. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for any objects or debris in your path to be moved so you can back in safely if you need to get into a specific spot, such as at a shipper or receiver. 

2. Drive Slowly

Patience is key when it comes to backing a semi-truck. Don’t let the pressure of your anyone watching make you rush, because safety is always more important than speed. Backing hastily can make you lose focus and skip important safety steps. Driving slowly will significantly reduce the risk of an accident, so readjust your angles or do a few pull-ups before backing if you need to. 

3. Always Get Out and Look

You should always be aware of your surroundings before you back into a spot. When in doubt, always remember the acronym GOAL (get out and look). Take the time to walk completely around your truck and check for obstacles above, below, and underneath it. While it may seem like a hassle, it is important to not solely rely on what you can see from inside your cab. You can physically check your position as often as you feel is necessary to ensure safety. 

4. Back the Trailer, Not the Truck

When you are backing a semi-truck, you want to think of it in terms of backing the trailer, not the truck. While it might feel counterintuitive, turning your steering wheel to the right turns the rear of the trailer left and vice versa. You can use your steering wheel to determine the direction of the trailer. Remember, when you place your left hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, the direction you move your hand is the direction the trailer will move.

5. Remember Your Training 

When you are faced with a tough area to back into, it can be easy to doubt your abilities. However, just remember you have all of the truck reversing skills you need. Take a deep breath, be patient with yourself, and remember what you’ve been training for. It is also helpful to take advantage of resources while you have them at your disposal. During the process of earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), ask your instructors for help and extra time to practice backing so you are better prepared for after graduation.

High-Quality CDL Training 

Semi-truck backing is just one of the many skills we will teach you in our CDL training program at Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque. Our experienced instructors help prepare you for situations you may encounter while on the road.

If you are ready to start training for your CDL, contact us today to find out when our next class begins.

What to Do If You Get Lost While Trucking

Whether you are new to the trucking industry or a seasoned driver, there is likely going to come a time when you get lost on the road. Both poor communication while receiving directions and relying solely on a GPS device contribute to getting a driver off route. While you can’t always control whether you get lost, you can control how you react to the situation. 


Follow these tips on what to do if you get lost while trucking:

1. Remember Not To Panic

The most important thing to remember when you get lost is not to panic. Driving in a panic can cause you to make hasty decisions and increases your chances of getting in an accident. If you find yourself lost, find a safe place to pull over and reassess your situation. Use your map or GPS device to determine where you are, then check your directions to see where you took a wrong turn.


If you can’t reroute yourself with the tools available to you in your truck, you can contact the shipper/receiver for clarification if you are nearby. Otherwise, your dispatcher may be able to help. 

2. Call Other Truckers For Help

Keeping your CB radio on while you are on the road can pay off if you get off course. You can use it to call out to a local driver and ask for directions or clarification on where you are. Every truck driver gets lost once in a while, so drivers will be understanding of your situation and more than likely willing to help.

3. Find A Safe Place to Turn Around

Once you have calmed down and figured out where to go next, you will need to find a safe place to turn around. Turning around in a space that is too small for your truck or failing to see an obstacle can be dangerous for both you and others on the road. You could drive into a ditch, hit a parked car, or sideswipe a trailer. Getting back on course cautiously will help you avoid these potential accidents.

4. Stay On Track

You can avoid getting yourself lost by preparing your directions before you leave for a trip. The number one reason truckers get lost while on their route is when the directions they were given were wrong or they miss a street sign. While they can be helpful with navigating, Google Maps and regular GPS units are not truck-friendly because they do not consider the weight limits of bridges or the height of overpasses. It is important to supplement their directions with other sources, like a road atlas or instructions from your company or shipper/receiver, and to use a trucker-friendly GPS when possible.


Here are more tips to help keep you on track:


  • Repeat the directions back to the person giving them to you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Ask for landmarks along the truck route to keep an eye out for.
  • Keep a journal of directions from every trip you take to look back on if you are in the area later.
  • Ask for unfamiliar street names to be spelled out.

A Safe Driving School

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we will prepare you to be the safest driver possible, but also understand that getting lost is sometimes unavoidable. We have locations in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas to assist our students in getting their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) in as little as four weeks. We also offer job placement assistance to help you explore your employment options after graduation. 

To learn more about what Phoenix Truck Driving School has to offer, contact us today.

Developing the Right Trucker Mindset

Your mindset plays a large role in your life, and this is true in any field or facet of life, including trucking. How you approach challenges, what your priorities are, and your general way of viewing your role as a trucker all influence your ability to succeed in the industry. It’s worthwhile to take the time to develop a positive “trucker mindset” even before you hit the road in order to set yourself up for the best possible experience.

Here are some mindset tips for truck drivers:

1. Know Why Trucking Is the Path For You

Trucking is a career path that offers excellent pay and benefits, the opportunity to see more of the country, and the ability to enjoy the freedom of the open road. However, like any career path, it’s not without its challenges. Having a clear sense of what’s most important to you will remind you of what makes trucking worthwhile for you specifically, even when things are tough. This may be a motivation to provide for your family, a love of the trucking lifestyle, or a sense of independence.

2. Prioritize Safety

Your specific list of priorities will be unique, but no matter what, safety needs to be on the list. Driving such a large vehicle is a big responsibility. From your first day in training to your last day behind the wheel, keep safety at the front of your mind. In addition to protecting yourself and others on the road, prioritizing safety can also help put things into perspective. Even if you didn’t get as many miles in a day as you wanted or if you had to get out of your truck several times when backing, you can remind yourself of your commitment to safety and why this matters.

3. Set Goals For Yourself

Having goals to work toward gives you a sense of purpose and a feeling of accomplishment when you reach them. Try setting a mix of long-term and short-term goals. This can help you map out the path you’d like to take for your career. Then follow through on this plan.

4. Stay Positive

In trucking, just like in any career, you’ll have good days and bad days. It’s not realistic to assume you’ll feel great 100% of the time, but you can work toward focusing on the positive when you can. This doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge when something upsets you, but it’s helpful to separate what you can and can’t control and to move on once you’ve worked through the initial problem. If you focus too much on the negative, it can start to affect your well-being and even make you a less safe driver if you’re distracted by your emotions.

5. Keep Learning

Once you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’ll have a foundation of knowledge to enter the trucking industry. After this point, you’ll also go through on-the-job training in most cases. However, even once you complete your training and hit the road on your own (or with your trucking team), you shouldn’t assume you know everything. Each day is a new opportunity to learn and grow as a trucker. The first year is often particularly full of learning opportunities, but no matter how long you’re on the road, there’s still more you can learn.

Start Your Trucking Career

Are you interested in earning rewarding pay in an essential industry? If so, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help you get started. Our program allows you to get your CDL in as little as four weeks and we offer job placement assistance to help you start earning as soon as possible.

To learn more about our CDL training in Albuquerque, contact us today.

Staying Focused When Driving OTR

As a truck driver, safety should always be your priority. One essential way to stay safe on the road is to ensure that you are always focused. Over-the-road (OTR) drivers spend long stretches of time behind the wheel, and this can increase the risk of becoming distracted unless you are careful.

Here are some tips for maintaining your focus when driving OTR:

1. Minimize Distractions

Anything that takes your mind off the task of driving, your hands off the wheel, or your eyes off the road is a form of distracted driving. Many distractions do all of these at once. To help you stay focused, it’s important to minimize all types of distractions while you’re behind the wheel.

You should be aware of the dangers of texting and driving, but as a refresher, this is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Never text and drive as a commercial driver, or while driving any type of vehicle. It’s not worth the risk.

In addition, here are some other distractions to avoid:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking on the phone (even hands-free)
  • Adjusting your radio or air conditioner

One distraction that varies depending on the driver is what you listen to. Some drivers are able to listen to podcasts or audiobooks without losing focus on the road, whereas others get distracted by spoken audio. Use your discretion. If you think something is distracting you, it probably is.

2. Ask “What If” Questions

One of the major principles of defensive driving is thinking ahead and being prepared to react to any sudden changes on the road. To help you do this, try asking yourself “what if” questions related to what is going on while you’re driving. For example, if there is a car in the lane next to you, ask yourself what you would do if that car were to suddenly try to merge. These scenarios give your mind something productive to do while driving so you can stay focused while also improving your defensive driving skills.

3. Take Breaks When You Need Them

If you find yourself unable to stay focused on the road, stop and take a break. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires certain breaks, but even beyond this, you can stop if you feel it will help you. It’s better to spend a bit of time not driving so you are able to focus more effectively in the long run versus trying to power through. Even ten minutes to take a nap, get a snack, or call a loved one back home can help you refocus for the rest of your drive.

4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Staying healthy can make a huge difference in your ability to stay focused. Although it can take some extra planning to make health a priority when you’re an OTR trucker, it’s well worth the effort in more ways than one.

Here are some health-related tips to improve your focus:

Stay Well-Rested

Sleep is essential to your health and fatigue presents a major risk for drivers. It’s hard to stay focused on the road when you’re tired. Maintain a regular sleep schedule to the best of your ability and stop for a nap if you are getting too tired.

Eat Healthily

Unhealthy meals can reduce your energy and your ability to focus. A healthy diet keeps you more alert, along with many other benefits.

Exercise Regularly

Finding time to exercise on the road doesn’t have to be a challenge. Even a short run at a truck stop can help keep your heart healthy, and it can also improve your focus and overall energy levels.

Interested in a Trucking Career?

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we help students become safe and successful truckers. Our program allows you to earn your license in as little as four weeks and we offer job placement assistance.

To learn more about becoming a trucker in Albuquerque, contact us today.